#5: Healthy Plate Method – Breaking Down Protein

Tori Stewart, a Home Based Cardiac Rehab Dietitian, dives into different types of protein, why they are important, and how much we should be aiming to eat each day.
Protein is considered the building block of life and is found in every cell of our bodies. It has many important functions and benefits. It helps with muscle tissue repair, growth, and maintenance. Protein also prevents muscle loss. It helps keeps your blood sugar balanced, and protein and amino acids are essential for the formation of hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters, antibodies, transport proteins, nucleic acids (DNA, RNA), and structural proteins (which are found in hair, nails, connective tissue). Protein plays a huge role in weight management.  Protein helps reduce appetite and curb cravings.  Protein also requires the most calories to digest. Furthermore, since protein helps preserve lean body mass, it can help to make sure that weight you lose is mostly fat. 
While protein has clear benefits, there are certain sources of protein that are better for you than others.  Good sources of protein include foods such as meat, dairy products, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds, and some vegetables. Some less healthy sources include foods like processed meats, fried foods, and highly processed protein-enriched foods. 
The amount of protein you need in order to feel your best will depend on several factors- your age, activity level, goals, and underlying health conditions.  Meeting your optimal protein requirement is necessary for good immune function, a healthy metabolism, satiety, weight management, and performance. A good rule of thumb is to get at least ½ your body weight (in pounds) in grams of protein.  A simple way to make sure you are getting an adequate amount of protein in your diet is by making sure you are including a good source of protein, which would be at least 25-30 grams, in each of your meals. When relating this to the healthy plate method of eating- you want to fill ¼ of your plate with quality protein. 

Be sure to listen to the Fresh Focus Podcast episode on protein to learn more!

Host Bio: Tori Stewart, MS, RD, LDN, CPT is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor. She serves veterans through facilitating a Home Based Cardiac Rehab program. Tori received a Dual-Master’s Degree in Food & Nutrition and Exercise Science from SIU Carbondale and has been at the VA for over two years. She is passionate about helping patients learn how to take control of their health and live a healthy and fulfilling life.